Reviews of Teen Books

Shadow of the Hegemon
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It’s almost fitting how the follow-on book in the spin-off series to Ender’s Game takes the same tactic as Speaker for the Dead and transforms itself into a completely different genre. While Speaker for the Dead and its sequels still maintained a level of science fiction for the Ender saga, Shadow of the Hegemon pivots into a political thriller with almost no hints of sci-fi to be seen. The strength of the characters helped make this transition relatively smooth, but it still highlights how these child-aged individuals hardly have any child-like qualities.

While the Shadow saga certainly needed to start out focusing on Bean, I did appreciate how Shadow of the Hegemon developed many of the supporting characters. For the first time in both series, I felt like the reader was able to know Petra and Peter while also seeing what Achilles was capable of accomplishing. The results of bringing back children war heroes to Earth had a logical feel to its progression, even if I didn’t really care much about southeastern Asian politics to really engage with the politics of the plot. That’s not to say the whole “cat and mouse” between Achilles and Bean wasn’t interesting; it just wasn’t what had brought me to this series in the first place.

Of course, having read the Ender saga first, I can already see the early ripples of how this side-series will start to wrap up. Now that Ender is less of a presence in the Shadow series, other characters finally have a chance to show what they can do. While I’ll reserve my predictions might change with what actually happens, I get the sense that Peter’s tenure as Hegemon changes the world just as Bean changes into some super-intelligent giant. I will admit that some of Orson Scott Card’s predictions from 2000 still seem plausible today, given the political climate, it’s clear that the author did his research before playing with the ever-important sci-fi “what if” scenario.

A political pivot from a well-known sci-fi series, I give Shadow of the Hegemon 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
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Ibanez, Isabel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ximenia Rojas has been the decoy for Condesa Catalina ever since the usurper Atoc overthrow the Illustrarians a decade ago. Ximenia's family, along with the Condesa's, perished during the civil war, and Ximenia and her fellow Illustrians want revenge. When Atoc summons the Condesa to the palace to be his bride, Ximenia goes in Catalina's place and uses her weaving magic to send messages to the Illustrians via tapestry. With only eight weeks before the wedding, Ximenia must find intel about a magical gem that is the Illustrian's only hope.

My literary 2020 is off to a great start with this gem of a historical fantasy YA novel! I went in with fairly low expectations as 2019 was, on the whole, not a great year for YA fantasy. This was very good and felt like something of a course correction. The "historical" aspect covers Bolivian politics and the introduction of cocaine, at least somewhat (I know nothing about Bolivia and the eARC didn't have an author's note at the end, but the author does reference her two Bolivian parents) and deftly weaves a story of magic, moonlight and betrayal. The moon magic is subtle, but well utilized. Ximenia's ability is, for lack of a better phrase, quite cool. The author took a familiar story of rebellion and a headstrong girl and combined those seemingly stale tropes with magical realism and Bolivian flavor to create a book that felt like something new. The romance was earned. The main character grows a lot throughout the course of the book. Ximenia's story is tied up by the end, but there's an intriguing jungle based thread that's left dangling (not a spoiler!) that I'd be willing to bet will be a second book. I'll read it.

Also, I dare you to read this book and not want some tasty Bolivian treats. The food sounds amaaaaaaaaaaazing and it's mentioned a lot.

TLDR: Woven in Moonlight takes a familiar tale of revolution and spices it up with excellent character development and creative magical realism. I'm having trouble thinking of something to compare it to, because I like it better than most books that I've read that are similar (The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson for example - this is in the same zone, but I enjoyed it a lot more). Recommended for readers who like their fantasies to be revolutionary (ha) with a strong female lead and a touch of magic. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Page Street Books for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Woven in Moonlight is available for purchase or you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
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Weir, Andy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After a NASA crew member is left behind on planet Mars, he has a huge to-do list. First, come in contact with NASA to prove he is alive, don't starve, don't die, then make it home alive. I'm not a huge fan of any science fiction type book, however, this was indeed an exception. I loved the perspectives the author chose to include, and the humor he shot into his characters gives the story personality. I suggest this book to an eighth grade audience; there is some inappropriate language and all of the science attributes are complex to understand. I strongly suggest to you this book if you want to be left on the edge of your seat with every new chapter, right up until the end.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P.
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Harrington, Kim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Clarity, by author Kim Harrington, is a gripping mystery novel about a sixteen-year-old young woman named Clarity, or "Clary". A normal teenager on the outside, Clarity possesses a talent for seeing the stories in objects: merely touch one and she sees visions related to the owner and what circumstances the object has been in. When a murder occurs in the small seaside town in which Clary lives, she teams up with the police and must dig deep into her own talents and the town's secrets in order to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed this book. While the writing is more of a middle-school level, the themes are for older teenagers. Thus, I would recommend this book to any reader over sixteen. The book is not overly long, and I finished it in under a day.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D.
Awards:
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Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Michael Grant has written a thrilling conclusion to his Gone series. Light is the perfect ending to a phenomenal series. Over the past five books, Sam, Astrid, Edilio, and all the others have survived every obstacle the FAYZ has thrown at them. However, will they be able to survive a final epic battle with the Gaiaphage itself? With suspense around every corner, Light brings the same energy and intensity found in all of the other Gone books. I thoroughly enjoyed Light and highly recommend it to any high school aged reader.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Book Cover
Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Michael Grant continues the Gone series with another spectacular novel. The kids of Perdido Beach have survived many obstacles thrown at them by the FAYZ, but now they must face their biggest fear yet: complete darkness. Will these kids be able to survive when they can't see what's coming for them? Fear is another hit by Grant. With twists and turns around every corner, Fear is a suspense thriller you won't be able to put down.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
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Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kendra and Seth are rushed back to Fablehaven, their grandparent's preserve for mythical creatures for another adventure. The Society of the Evening Star is on the move trying to collect the artifacts. The Sorenson's call in three allies but are they really on their side? Will they be able to stop the society before the artifacts are gone? As the second book in the Fablehaven series this one is even better then the first. There is tons of action and many new characters. You won't be able to put this book down!

Reviewer's Name: McKenna B
Genres:
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Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fablehaven is a book about siblings, Kendra and Seth. Their parents send them to their grandparents house where they find out it's actually a magic preserve for mythical creatures. When Seth's mischief gets out of hand will they be able to save the preserve, and the world? Fablehaven is my favorite book series and I know you will enjoy it too. Once you read the first book you won't be able to stop until you've finished the series. As a teen I was able to relate to the characters and I just couldn't stop reading!

Reviewer's Name: McKenna B
Awards:
Genres:
The Martian book jacket
Weir, Andy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a crew of astronauts leave from Mars, Mark Watney, an astronaut is left behind as he was presumed dead. Watney is forced to survive on Mars with the limited resources and supplies that he has with him. As he is doing so, NASA on Earth are diligently working to bring him home for a rescue mission.

The Martian is a fictional story that interests those who are interested in either science and/or action. Bringing both of these together, it illustrates a stressful novel that will keep the reader on.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
1984
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

1984 introduces Winston Smith as the primary character. Smith is a middle-aged man that lives within a dystopian society in April of 1984. Being nearly 4 decades after World War II and just a couple of years after the apparent Atomic Wars, Smith lives through the totalitarian state of Oceania, where is activity is consistently surveyed. At this point, Smith attempts to relocate himself from this totalitarian state in order to put him back to normal behavior.

1984 is another novel involving a dystopia, however, it stands out for its strong character development. The premise of the story is heavily shown through the setting, as it demonstrates a controlled and tyrannical lifestyle.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
The Things They Carried book jacket
O'Brien, Tim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Things They Carried follows through the perspective of a soldier within the 23rd Infantry Division. Enlisted during the Vietnam War, the book covers over the soldier's, as well as the platoons experiences throughout. The Things They Carried is a collection of stories that correlate to one another, bringing an ultimate immersion to those that are interested of any war, or historical context.

The Things They Carried is a book that has a deeper insight within the emotional, mental, and physical state of the soldiers that went through the Vietnam War. Having a darker and more serious tone than other novels, it is one that stands out and deserves recognition.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last book of the series that follows the adventures of Harry Potter. As Harry and his crew have evidently aged to a more mature level of both wisdom and wizardry, they have no choice but to face Voldemort. Harry, alongside his two best friends, Ron and Hermione begin to destroy Voldemort's army piece by piece. As Voldemort takes control of the Wizardry world, Harry prepares for the ultimate showdown.

The Deathly Hallows is an extremely enticing story that brings an end to the Harry Potter series. Renowned for its fantasy and lore, the Deathly Hallows collectively groups it all into one story for an action-pact and romantic story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 5th book of the Harry Potter series. In this, it embarks upon the adventure of Harry Potter, switching in between the Muggle and Wizard worlds to combat the upcoming villain, Voldemort. As safety is becoming more of a concern, Potter must find a way to combat this new danger that lurks around his home.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better books of the series, as Harry and the rest of the characters have had an in-depth insight of their character. Now, it can focus upon the story, interesting those who are involved with action-pact novels.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
365 Days of Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After reading the critically-acclaimed book WONDER by R.J. Palacio, a family member bought me this book for Christmas. It technically has no plot but instead gives you a positive quote for every day of the year. Each quote and the book included is displayed creatively and colorfully to really amp you up all day every day. This book is called "Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts"
so, at the end of each month, there is a short story told by Mr. Browne teaching the audience lessons. I would recommend this book to any age group, if you're into life-lessons and positive quotes, then surely you should barrow this book (or buy it for year-round use). Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Bomb book jacket
Shienken, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is perfect for young history enthusiasts, around the age of middle school. It's all about how the world's deadliest weapon was created, researched, spied on, and used. Explaining the race and allies of America to win the Cold War and beat Russia and Japan in creating the very first atomic bomb, this real-life story includes many famous scientists and new scientific discoveries. If you love action, science, and history, then I promise you'll love this book. It is super unpredictable and has a pretty sad ending when one of the countries wins. But who wins? Guess you're going to have to read to find out. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Inkspell book jacket
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inkspell, the second book in the Inkheart trilogy is perfect for you if you enjoyed the first novel. Although it seems quite repetitive to be read immediately after enjoying Inkheart, new characters are still involved, thus leading to new plot twists. The antagonist in Inkheart to Inkspell has changed, again and again with every new task deemed "impossible." To me, it was a little predictable and things went slowly... until the end. In this book, the main character, Meggie, is now a 13-year-old girl who experiences many new things: love, loneliness, and a deeper meaning to sorrow. The vocabulary outlined in this book is also perfect for readers 12-15 and the plot is very dramatic if I may say so myself.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Genres:
Inkheart book jacket
Funke, Cornelia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke is a timeless novel filled with magic, fictional characters, and supernatural powers perceived in a way that never before was. At the library, I was looking for a book, fantasy or fiction in particular, and stumbled upon something at the time I didn't know was going to be as good as it was. In the most poignant parts, I was left in tears, and in the most hilarious, well, I was also left in tears.
The main character features a mature 12-year-old girl, which many of the readers, is quite relatable, even to others a few older. There were many climaxes to this story, leaving an unpredicted outcome with each new page; so why would I rate it a 5? Read it for yourself!

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Genres:
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Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Artemis Fowl is back!

Well, not really. But his little brothers are a more than sufficient replacement. Twins Myles and Beckett have lived a life of education and luxury (with some mild kidnapping thrown in). But everything changes drastically when a small troll appears on their island. Before they know it, they find themselves kidnapped by ACRONYM (a government organization that deals with magic) and working with a fairy to escape from not one, but two baddies - an evil, mustache twirling duke and a deranged nun that are themselves at odds. Will the Fowl Twins escape in time to save their lives and, perhaps more importantly, human-fairy relations for the rest of time?

This was very cute. Colfer was in top form here, and this held all of the characteristics of a middle grade book that I find to be readable (they aren't always my favorite). Myles is snarky. Beckett is a loose cannon (who can talk to animals!!!). The duke has access to insanely quirky gadgets and wouldn't be out of place as a Despicable Me super-villain. The evil nun is an evil nun. The pace moves quickly, but we still get to know our characters. Aside from its general predictability (adults will see all the twists coming before they happen), it's a fantastic middle grade read. If the narrator is any good, I'll add this series to my list of books that I listen to while running.

TLDR: If you loved the Artemis Fowl series, you'll love this one too! It has all of the best elements of the original series with some fun new quirks and characters. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Fowl Twins is available for purchase on 05 Nov, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix introduces Harry Potter as he progresses to his fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry has fought against a diverse group of enemies that he has founded throughout. Now, Harry Potter faces one of the greatest enemies to have roamed Hogwarts. Afraid of the upcoming attacks and horrors that would surround Hogwarts, Potter prepares a group of students to fight against and safeguard Hogwarts.

The Order of Phoenix introduces as a change of tide regarding to conflict.
This book begins to set the premise for the final books of the series to come, which makes the Order of Phoenix to be a crucial story for the series.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Once Harry has reached his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry and his collective group of friends are now starting to become more involved with events at Hogwarts. As an upcoming tournament is arriving, Harry is selected to be a part of the tournament. With insufficient skills required for success at this tournament, he must still attend and participate. The Goblet of Fire ultimately tests Harry Potter's wizardry and how much he has learned over the four years at Hogwarts.

Goblet of Fire is primarily focused upon the idea of camaraderie and ultimately, Harry. Focusing on his weaknesses and his character, this gives the incentive for those who are interested of Harry's principles. Being a great development arc for Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire is of the few of the series that deserves to be rated 5/5.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T

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